Livni calls for PA control over Gaza, disarmament

Justice minister says Israel has ‘an opportunity for political change’; south is more secure, but ‘this isn’t Switzerland’

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni speaks during a Hatnua party meeting in the Knesset in May 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni speaks during a Hatnua party meeting in the Knesset in May 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni called Sunday for the replacement of the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip with that of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and for international initiatives to disarm the Gazan terror groups.

Operation Protective Edge presents opportunities to reform the region, she said, which can come “through international agreements discussing disarmament, [and] placing Abu Mazen [Abbas] in the Strip.”

“We have an opportunity for political change, not with Hamas, but against Hamas,” she told the Ynet news website. Both the US and EU have released statements in past weeks backing the disarmament of Hamas.

Livni added that the military campaign will continue until its aims are met. With regard to the security of the southern residents following the operation, Livni emphasized that she will accept the army’s assurances about the tunnel threat, but that Israel “is not Switzerland,” and its residents cannot expect to enjoy full security.

“When the army comes to the cabinet and says it’s okay, I will be able to look at the southern residents [in the eye] and say everything is okay… Our soldiers were killed on the way to demolishing the tunnels so that the five-year-old girl could go home,” she said. However, Livni stressed that the region is unstable and she cannot guarantee that all the dangers have been successfully averted.

The justice minister’s statements come as the IDF redeployed its troops in the Gaza Strip and withdrew from many areas within the coastal enclave. Despite the apparent withdrawal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday night that the operation is set to continue, remarks echoed by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

“Lift your head up,” Bennett posted on his Facebook page. “Soldiers, wherever you are: It’s not over. In these moments there is the danger of complacency… This is the time for unity and support as our soldiers still stand behind enemy lines and are endangering their lives for us… We’ll talk about everything, when there’s time to talk.”

Both Bennett and Livni are members of the eight-person security cabinet responsible for the vital political decisions with regard to Operation Protective Edge.

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